walking through walls: memoir of a psychic

bead curtainsi’ve marked at least 30 pages in walking through walls, the intriguing memoir of lew smith, eccentric husband, exorcist, vegetarian, psychic, healer, lover – and last not least, decorator to the rich and famous, the “king of beads”, the father of the bead curtain.

as well as father of philip smith, loving and perplexed son, and author of this book.

let me randomly pick a few of those pages:

about lew smith’s first encounter with his healing abilities, during a lecture by arthur ford of the spiritual frontiers fellowship:

while ford spoke, my father looked around for an empty seat, a woman sitting off to the side suddenly turned around and motioned my father to come over to her. he thought she was going to point him to a seat, instead she whispered, “i see in your aura that you are a healer. please help me; i can’t stop this terrible cough. place your hands on my shoulders and send me your energy.”

after getting rid of ants by building “a thought-form around the house that was like a natural insecticide”:

there is only one requirement for using any psychic tools or methods. your efforts and intention must be for the highest good. if you use these tools for personal gain, for revenge or for harm, it will come back to you negatively tenfold. you can’t get any with anything in the spirit world. there are no shortcuts, no get-rich-schemes.

about lew smith’s passion for helping:

my father truly wanted to help people and believed that his work could eliminate a lot of physical and mental suffering. everything he did was based on the simple notion that we are all spiritual beings with tremendous powers. until we recognized this, nothing would change – there would continue to be wars, disease, and anger … he dreamed of the day when there would no longer be a need for hospitals, doctors or pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects.

about creativity and depression:

“isn’t depression good for creating? aren’t artists supposed to be tortured and depressed?” my father laughed. “that is a really stupid idea. i hope you will quickly let go of that thought. art should come from a serene, wise place that is not disturbed by negative ideas.”

philip smith presents all of this without abstract judgment, neither glorifying nor dismissing his father’s unusual goings-about. nor does he normalize or trivialize the spirit guides, far-out yogic practices and stringent eating habits. he tells the tales of his father from the perspective of a loving and baffled son, who is at once intrigued and embarrassed by his dad, who feels both comforted and bothered by the father’s constant psychic intrusions on his life.

like any good biography, this book is also a piece of history. the sleepy old florida of the 50s and 60s, the cocktail party-era of little black dresses and cigarette holders, the awakening of psychedelics and the forerunners of the new age movement – they’re all there.

walking through walls is well written, entertaining and – again, i want to use the word “loving”. there is nothing sentimental about these 329 pages; rather, they seem born from a deeply affectionate (and by no means straightforward) bond between father and son, and from the desire to tell a truth that is curious, important, complex, inexplicable – and just wants to be told.

maybe it’s lew smith speaking from the beyond. who knows. why don’t you check it out for yourself.

philip smith is the former managing editor of GQ and an artist whose works are in the permanent collections of the whitney museum, the dallas museum of art, and the detroit institute of arts, among many others. he lives in miami; one of his virtual homes is at walking through walls – the book. you can find more material about the book here, here and here.

image by jtstrathdee

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